Over the years, I’ve sent lots of people to Banff and its surrounds to enjoy the Winter Skiing program in Canada and I felt quite familiar with it as a destination and understanding what to recommend to people, but I have to admit, I never had any great desire to visit personally, mainly because I’m not an avid skier. When we were planning out our visit to Canada, it seemed logical to take in the Rockies – Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, but for me it was to see what all the fuss was about rather than spend time skiing, so it didn’t worry us that we would be there at the end of the snow season.
We flew from Vancouver to Calgary and were welcomed by icy temperatures of -12 degrees, which literally took our breath away, and after a tour of Stampede Park, headed out to Banff which was an hour and a half road trip. As we drove into Banff, our reaction was wow, wow and wow!
Banff is truly one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever visited. Snow covered mountains surround this beautiful alpine town which looks as if it could have been picked up straight out of Europe and dropped in the Canadian Rockies. Banff may only be small, but we spent a lovely afternoon taking in frozen lakes and the absolutely stunning Fairmount Resort, before browsing the spectacular shops and walking through the gorgeous town.
The souvenir shops in Canada were just amazing full stop; filled with products of exceptional quality, so it’s easy to buy yourself lots of mementos that you’ll actually enjoy and use. Make sure you stop at Evolution in the heart of the town; a gourmet grocery store where you can sample amazing flavoured olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars that are truly to die for. It’s hard not to buy everything in the shop, and you could spend hours sampling all of the delicious products and people often do. When you’re ready for a snack, sample the local beavertails (which are a flat, donut style treat with amazing toppings) as these are something that I wouldn’t say are amazing, but they are unique and great if you have a sweet tooth.
The absolute highlight of our whole trip to Canada was a day spent dog-sledding at nearby Canmore, and we were so fortunate to experience as they book out days/weeks ahead of travel. We were outside of the main season so didn’t experience too much trouble (although we did book before leaving Australia) but please make sure you do book as part of your package if you don’t want to be disappointed. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, so were thrilled we were able to do.
Accommodation in Banff is all centrally located and runs as a line of hotels, motels and apartments on the main road into Banff. We stayed at the popular Delta Suites which were great and I can highly recommend, and the also popular Fox Suites was located next door. These properties are around a two minute drive into town or a ten minute walk if the roads/paths are not too icy.
We were treated to a blanket of snow as we ate dinner in Banff on our first night, so it is good to drive in as the weather changes so quickly. Banff is home to a number of restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as lively nightlife, so there is plenty to keep you occupied.
It’s not hard to understand why Banff is Canada’s most popular Tourist spot, and it’s actually more popular in the Summer months than in Winter, so if you decide to do a road trip through Western Canada, make sure you allocate at least two or three nights to this picturesque town, no matter what time of year you are travelling.